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4-203 (Original)

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author,male,Thomson, R.,un addressee,male
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Official Correspondence
Clark, 1975
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Just at this time, when new ideas are ripening that if allowed to grow without interference would land the Australian people in the status of a united and powerful nation, one set of persons is trying to divert the attention of Australians from the straight course before them to the meshes of the net of Imperial Federation, whilst another set, which chiefly resides in Sydney, is trying its utmost to stop the growth of National ideas by Setting the Australian States at enmity with one another. [791]
Regarding the first of these foes to the National Cause, it may be said that their distinguishing feature is absenteeism. If they are not actually absent from their colony, their hearts are; but as a rule it may safely be said that the actual absentees are the strongest Imperial Federationists. These persons, whilst contributing nothing to the country which protects their properties and from whence they draw the means to live in luxury in foreign countries, are for ever prating of what Australia should do for Imperialism - which, when closely analysed, means for themselves. These are the people who cry out for Australian contributions to maintain mercenary fleets. They pay, in Australian gold, taxes to the British revenues, and the less the cost of Britain's armaments the greater the probability of a reduction of her taxation, and consequently of the amount of income-tax required from the London colonials. If the whole of the colonies were to undertake the cost and duty of "maintaining their connections with the centre of the Empire", it is safe to say that Britain's naval expenditure might be immensely reduced - a result which would cause a certain reduction of taxation, and hence of the amounts required from the colonial absentees. This no doubt would be eminently satisfactory to those gentlemen, and if in decreasing their own expenses, they caused an increase of that of the home staying Australian, why they would only be forwarding the glorious cause of Imperial Federation, whose cardinal principle is that the centre should be nourished at the cost of the extremities! The absentee Imperialists have other games to win in pushing on their Imperial Federation fad. If the country that yields them their revenues - if our Australia - will only behave like a good and dutiful child to her grand, old, affectionate mother; if she shows that she is willing to spend her blood and treasure in the cause of Imperialism; if she will waste her substance that bondholders may securely draw drawn their interest from downtrodden Egypt; or that the Russians may be kept out of lands in which the Australian people have not the faintest interest; then the Carlton Club will smile on Australia, and what is better - much better - on all that boast themselves as being connected with her. Then to be an Australian would be the absentee's best title to the patronage of the British aristocracy. It would give him the entrée to salons where unaided his own vulgar wealth could never aspire to. It would give him influence with the Government and perhaps assist his son to a fat and fashionable sinecure, and himself to a ribbon or a star. Looking at the matter with dreams of this kind floating round him, can we wonder that the absentee should preach Soudanism and Imperialism. [792]
Let the critic sneer at 1788 It shall yet be a date that the wide world shall honour. What though our land was born in sorrow and shame; yet out of the cradles of poverty and sin, empires have emerged and the regenerators of mankind have arisen.
When we think of the teachings of history we can well believe that in the time to come - it may be before this generation has passed away - 1788 will be a date that will be classed in the world's history with the founding of Rome, the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, or the storming of the Bastille. There will be but one greater day in our own Australia's annals, and that will be the anniversary of the Declaration of her Independence. For that great date, now that we are at the dawn of the second century of our existence as a people, it is the duty of our countrymen to make preparation. It will be a fateful event, and epochs of that character are slow in coming and are not the progeny of chance. Work, earnest work, must smooth the way, and the more the labourers and the more earnest their labour, the sooner and the better will the triumph be achieved. Too many of my countrymen give no thought to the morrow. It suffices them that they eat, drink, and be merry. But empires are not built by muscles and bodies alone. Brains must be exerted. There must be they who will plan and work for other ends than those which are demanded to obtain the wherewithal to eat and drink.
Australians! you are the vast majority of the people of this land. Why do ye not rule it? Wherefore leave to your veteran fathers the task of governing a land for which they cannot have the same affection as you have? Our fathers' hearts must of necessity feel but a divided affection for this land of ours. It is not natural to expect otherwise. We know, even those of us who think of little but athletic sports, how well we love our native land. We know, too, that we could never love another as well. How, then, can we expect our fathers, whose native lands are in the northern world, to feel for our Australia as we do? They cannot do so, and if not how can they be such fit rulers of our land as ourselves, who know no other land, nor wish to, save as a curiosity; who sprang from the soil of this land; who live [in] it; who will die in it, and all of whose interests and affections are bound up with it. An Englishman may seek to govern Australia solely for his own purposes, but an Australian must, no matter how utterly selfish he may he, still have at the bottom an earnest desire to serve his country as well as himself.
Then naught have we, Australians, to gain by the subjection of the Hindoos and Burmese. In the case of another portion of the grand conglomeration, we certainly have a very decided gain - of a kind. Through the need of a few fat billets for Englishmen in Hong Kong, we have been almost compelled to treat hordes of the filthiest and most obscene race in existence as fellow-"subjects" (how the base word galls). [793] These fellow British subjects can, in virtue of the possession by England of one part of the Mongol dominion, come among us as a right. Thus England gets a few lucrative appointments, and - we had nearly forgotten it - a funnel through which to pour opium poison into the Mongols, and we, for our share, get the Mongols themselves. Britain gets the cash and we get the pollution.
Such are our advantages from those parts of the conglomeration that are nearest to us. If these advantages are worth anything, by all means let us stick to them by upholding "The Empire". But if they are in most cases absolutely worthless, and in others far worse than useless, then, he would be a great fool who would advise us to seek them for our own sake, and a Don Quixote who would ask the new nation on this soil to exert itself in a cause which only enriches another nation twelve thousand miles away.
The question whether it is an advantage, or injury to this country that "the rubbish of the Celestial Empire should continue to be shot on these shores" has already been sufficiently investigated, and more people have agreed, that it is decidedly an injury to it. Yet they who have so agreed, have hitherto argued as if they were mere sojourners in the land, whose sole object in being here was to get a living in a comfortable, moral, and respectable manner. On the other hand there is a minority - chiefly employers of labour - that maintains that though amongst the Chinese who come here certain vices are more prevalent than amongst Europeans, yet they are, as a rule, a peaceable, industrious, and, above all, a "Cheap people", and hence a benefit to the country - to the country, meaning to the employers of labour. This dictum of the minority, from its point of view, is apparently unimpeachable, though it is really not so. However, that is not a point to be discussed at present. The former of these opinions on the Mongolian influx may be aptly described as that of a citizen of the British Empire; the latter as that of a cosmopolite or citizen of the world. But there is another light in which the subject must be viewed by our people, and that is, from an Australian standpoint.
The Australian cannot look at the question in the same light as a man who is essentially a colonist, that is, one who goes to a new country to improve his condition in life, and cares for that country principally as affording him scope for obtaining an easier and better livelihood than he could expect "at home". But this country is the Australian's home. He knows no other. It is not for him a place for making money or for obtaining a living only. It is his native land, where in good or evil report he will live and die; and he owes it no divided allegiance, but that sacred and indissoluble attachment due from every man, savage or civilised, to the land of his birth. It may here be remarked that this attachment is always more perceptible in small or young democratic countries, for every native of the soil in such cases feels himself a more important unit in the sum total of his nation, than any single citizen of a long-established, populous country could consider himself. [794]
It will be evident from the foregoing, that the question whether the Chinese who come here are moral or immoral is a matter of comparative indifference to an Australian. Their crime is that they are a cheap race - cheap to a degree that is destructive to the white race. And, as we proudly hope that Australia shall one day be the seat of a mighty independent nation of the Anglo-Saxon race, to which Britain shall look in the far-off future with eyes full of trustful love and pride, it is our bounden duty as loyal and patriotic natives of the soil, to use every effort in our power to prevent the calamity which would bring about the one result, and so destroy our hopes and prospects of the other. En fact, it would be little short of treason to our land to stand by and see a cancer in her breast, which, though small at present, grows daily stronger in vitality, taking deeper and deeper root, and slowly but surely sending its noxious parasitical fibres hither and thither throughout our land. [...]
So far from thinking a Chinese war would be a calamity to Australia I fervently believe it would be the greatest blessing we could possibly receive. For it would give us an excuse to clear out every yellow alien from our midst; and there would be such an uprising of patriotism in Australia as has seldom been seen in Anglo-Saxon annals; for the Australian is more enthusiastic and excitable than his fathers. At the first threat of approaching danger, the youth, the young men and the old men of the continent would lay down their pens, their tools and their whips, and pick up whatsoever in the shape of a rifle or musket was available to their hands, and there would be a sound of shooting and of drilling and of martial command in every hamlet, township and city of the country. The whole land would ring with the shout of preparation, and in the general outburst of warlike enthusiasm the women even would not be idle. Never a girl would look at her lover did he not bear on his arm or breast the badge of Australian defence, and in every home in Australia fair women with sparkling eyes and warm hearts would be broidering the colours of the local companies or making the wherewithal to comfort those whom they loved but who soon might lay [sic] cold or wounded on a patriot's field. Yes, a Chinese threat of invasion would do all that and it would do more - far more: it would immediately federate our states into one nation; it would give us a permanent national government, and, baptised with the certain halo of a glorious victory in a truly righteous and holy cause, the flag of our new-born nation, the blue banner of the Southern Cross, would be an emblem that henceforth to all time would inspire the sons of our country with patriotic pride and a firm resolution to live true to her, and, when necessary, to die for her. No longer would our land hang doubtfully on the fiat of others. [795] She would have arisen from the tutelage and the milk of dependence into the clear light of manhood and independence. No longer would the hated word "Colonial" be cast at our heads: but as citizens of the Sovereign and Independent States of Australia our people and their representatives could rightfully claim a free and equal admittance into the family of nations.
As to the virtues of the Chinese as citizens: who has seen them? Wherever the Mongol settles, be he rich or poor, his neighbourhood reeks of physical and moral pestilence. His house is rarely washed out; the windows are never open, and the blinds are eternally down - that is to say, unless he has a fresh white paramour, who has not become quite accustomed to breathe an 'atmosphere charged beyond Caucasian endurance with human exhalations and opium fumes. Look in the Mongol's back yard, and unless the police are constantly watching him, you will find pestilence and malaria seething in every hole and corner. In short, his house is a den, and his yard is a sewer.
In his moral character John Chinaman is like his den and his yard. He has, saving a species of ant-like industry, but one virtue, and that is the effect of the training of ages. He has a kind of regard for his progenitors. That is the single good point in the Mongol's moral side. As against this, he has no ideas such as prevail among Caucasian races of what is due from man to man. John Chinaman will leave his comrade to die in a ditch, or cast him upon the tender mercies of the whites. He has no wife; but merely a toy or a slave - a thing to gratify his lusts or a creature to be silent and obey. If he has more children than he requires, he either kills them in infancy - a practice which is recognised by his Government - or he sells them into slavery without the slightest compunction. John has no ideas in his language which are analogous to sin or morality in ours. If he sins more than usually, he never regrets the wrong - but merely the bad policy. In short, he has no ideas in common with Europeans on the subject of right and wrong. Everything is simply a question of good and bad taste. In the matter of lying, John is without a rival: but he is never troubled about his lies except when they are discovered, and then he grieves sorely because he overdid the thing [...] the fact is the "Chinkie" generally knows all the filth that a mind with not a single moral principle in it could possibly imbibe, long before he leaves sight of the teeming dens and hovels of Canton or Hong Kong. [796]
Such is the law-abiding, virtuous race of citizens that takes the fancy of some of our philanthropists and philosophers. I would advise these kind of gentlemen to take the Mongols to their own bosoms first, and to nurse them to be their daughters' husbands, and then, when they have well tested the matter in that wise, I will certainly say they have some right to recommend John Chinaman to others.